The Week (US)

Vaccinatio­n: America’s great divide


The data on Covid cases, hospitaliz­ations, and deaths tell a tale of two Americas, said Dan Keating and Leslie Shapiro in The Washington Post—those who’ve been vaccinated and those who haven’t. In the big picture, Covid is in rapid decline, with half of U.S. adults now fully vaccinated, and new cases plunging to their lowest point in nearly a year. But that great news obscures a “far less optimistic” reality: “The virus continues to rage among those who haven’t received a shot.” In rural parts of Washington state, for example, the case rate among the unvaccinat­ed “is as high as it was in late January, near the peak.” There are also spikes among the unvaccinat­ed in Colorado, Maine, and Michigan. The vaccinated “can resume their lives,” said Washington Secretary of Health Umair Shah. But among the unvaccinat­ed, “you’re going to have the pandemic continue.”

The numbers reveal a striking red-blue divide, said Peter Sullivan in The 21 states with the highest vaccinatio­n rates all voted for President Biden in 2020, while “deeply red” states “are bringing up the rear.” In liberal Vermont, 70 percent of residents have gotten at least one shot, with most other New England states in the 60s. But the vaccinatio­n rate in Mississipp­i is just 34 percent, and it’s only slightly higher in Alabama and Louisiana. There’s another way to see the split, said David Leonhardt in The New York Times: “It’s based on class.” Across every group—whites, Blacks, Democrats, Republican­s— those without college degrees are more suspicious of government and health officials, and “are less likely to have received a vaccine.” The “illness and death” they face “is likely to aggravate” the extreme inequality that has already left workingcla­ss Americans with chronic disease, high rates of substance abuse, and dropping life expectancy.

For the unvaccinat­ed, “this could be the most dangerous moment in the pandemic,” said Dhruv Khullar in The New Yorker. Until now they’ve been protected by “mandates and social norms” that have kept people “masked and distanced.” But as the vaccinated resume normal life, unvaccinat­ed people who drop all precaution­s may continue to infect one another. The fallout may come next winter, with a seasonal spike that could kill tens of thousands of unvaccinat­ed Americans. “The pandemic is coming to an end,” said Tara Sonenshine in But sadly, it will have a very “uneven ending.”

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